Inspired people – Kim Manley Ort

Inspired people interviews

Artists are inspired people. But what makes them create what they create? What lights the fire that produces such wonderful work? Here are a few questions that will hopefully inspire some answers.

Today our inspired person is Kim Manley Ort. I met Kim as a fellow artist through the Thriving Artists Project and apart from being welcomed by her encouraging words, I’ve since fallen in love with her photography. She has some absolutely stunning artistic works up her sleeve (and on her website :D). I am honoured to have her here and I look forward to seeing more of her work


Kim Manley Ort - photographerThe Artist

Who are you? What factors in your life have led you to create? Was it an epiphany moment or something that has always been?

I am a middle aged Mom who discovered photography later in life. Ansel Adams was my inspiration. When my kids were little, I would take some time for myself when they napped, put on piano music and read a good book. One of those books was about the life of Ansel Adams, well-known American photographer of the West. I admired not only his photographs but the way he lived his life with integrity. After a visit to Yosemite National Park in California, where Adams did much of his photography, I decided to take my first photography class and I was hooked. It was an epiphany of sorts, discovering my passion at the age of 40, but when I look back, I had always loved taking photographs.

Where are you from, where do you live, and how does your location influence your art?

I am a dual citizen, born in Canada, but have lived in the U.S. for the past 25 years. Home is Indianapolis, Indiana, where we have been for 15 years.

My location definitely influences my art. We are not near a body of water and we don’t have mountains; as a matter of fact, the landscape is quite flat! However, I am a firm believer in finding the beauty in your own backyard, and at least half of my photographic work comes from Indiana.

As a matter of fact, I did a project in 2007, where I took a photo a day of Indianapolis and posted it on Flickr. By doing that, I was able to get feedback from others and also developed a new appreciation for this city where I live.

Were you ever distracted away from your art and creating by the need to make a living? Have you ever stopped creating?

It has definitely been an evolution. Fortunately, I do not have to support myself completely from my art. At first, I wanted photography to remain a hobby, although it is an expensive one. I didn’t want to lose my love for it by having to take certain images.

Then, I decided to start selling my art, mainly because friends had asked about purchasing prints, but thinking I would only ever be able to cover my expenses. I definitely had the starving artist mentality.

As my husband gets closer to retirement, I need to increase my income a little more. And that is why I joined the Thriving Artist’s Project, run by Melissa Dinwiddie. I am starting to believe that I could actually develop a decent income from multiple streams – like writing, photography workshops, and my art.


The Art

What do you create? Do you have a niche or do you spread your creativity across several disciplines? Do you have a preferred subject?

I mostly photograph the natural world, with a focus on developing awareness, appreciation and a desire to protect. Environmental issues are very important to me. Creativity comes into play in how I present my work, whether in abstract form, with painterly effects, or by adding words or poetry.

Kim Manley Ort Photography - Tree Reflections

What inspires you to create? Do you have any techniques to find inspiration?

First and foremost, I get inspiration by just taking the time to photograph. Nature itself is always inspiring, and photography is a very meditative practice for me. Once I get out there, free from distractions, slowing down and noticing, the inspiration comes. Sometimes, more inspiration comes after I get home and look at the photographs. I see things in them that I didn’t’ notice while I was out there. Or I get ideas for projects after seeing a common thread working itself through my photographs.

Attending photography workshops is always inspiring. Being with other photographers and photography mentors helps me to see things in new ways, getting the creative juices flowing.

My photography projects are sometimes inspired by other people, through hearing them speak or reading their books. For example, I attended a workshop given by a neuroscientist, who said the phrase – Awareness is everything. This stuck with me, and spawned my photography project – The Everything Series – where I use images to represent words that I believe are the foundation of everything, like awareness, change, relationships, etc.

How often do you create? Do you procrastinate? How do you balance between the things that have to be done versus the things you want to do?

Do I procrastinate? Absolutely. I am a master at it. But I try to find time to create every day, even if just writing.

The Thriving Artists Project has really helped me to outline what  a creative and productive day would look like. Basically, I think the key is to eliminate the distractions that are unnecessary. Email, Twitter, and phone calls are big distractions so I am trying to only address them at certain times of the day. And to set aside blocks of time for creating. It is amazing how much you can get done with two hours of uninterrupted time.

I try to do my creative work that is a priority for that day first thing in the morning. I do not check email or Twitter or answer phone calls until that work is done. If I have time, I will schedule a block of time in the afternoon too to continue my work.

Where do you create?

Mostly, I work from a home office or my kitchen. For photographing, I have a large city park nearby that is always a great source of inspiration. I also travel a fair bit, and will use that opportunity to photograph.

What do you enjoy doing the most?

I love the actual process of being out photographing, and then reviewing the images afterwards and deciding how I will present them.Kim Manley Ort Photography - Inspiration is everything

Do you have any advice for other artists?

My advice would be to follow your heart, know yourself, and create what comes from the inside, regardless of what anyone else thinks. There will always be people who don’t like your work, or treat it with indifference. Who cares?

Another thing I have learned from the Thriving Artists Project is to be creative in coming up with products around your art. This year I will develop photography workshops and am thinking about how to present the concept of a Print of the Month.

“The crucial thing is to make up your own rhythm, and then have the courage and discipline to live it.” ~ Roderick MacIver

Do you have any questions for other artists?

How do you get to the deepest edges of your creativity?

How do you find the right market for your work?

Where can you and your art be found?

I am a member of a cooperative art gallery in Zionsville, Indiana, called Art IN Hand Gallery (

My work can be found online through Imagekind ( and Zazzle ( and on my blog and website at


5 responses to “Inspired people – Kim Manley Ort”

  1. Thanks, Nutty, for the opportunity to be a part of your inspired people series. You inspire me!

  2. I have always admired Kim’s photography and am so pleased to hear how much joy she is getting from her creativity, as she has always been an inspiration to me.

  3. Your work and words are truly inspiring, Kim! One day you’ll be known all over the world!

  4. You are an incredible person and my life is sweeter knowing you. What a truly amazing gift you are to this world. You inspire me

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Kim. I love her photography and her writings, always inspirational. Kim is very talented, and can’t wait to see the project Print of the Month, and how she will go about setting up photo workshops 😉